Best Ice Fishing Fish Finders. Comparison & Buying Guide
If you have been trying to get your hands on the best ice fishing fish finder but you haven’t had much luck up until now, you’ve ended up in the perfect place. We’ve taken the time to look at the reviews, sales figures, and various surveys in regards to the popular choices out there. Ultimately, we concluded that the Marcum LX-7 is the one you should bear in mind as it has been outfitted with most of the features you might be looking for and it is one of the best ice fishing electronics 2020. It’s equipped with a large 8-inch LCD and comes with four user-selectable color palettes. Besides, the interface is user-friendly and allows you to perform any modification you may wish and consult the data you are truly interested in. From what we have gathered about the unit, it seems that both the detail and the response are impressive as most buyers describe them as excellent. Should the Marcum LX-7 be out of stock, check out the second best option, the Humminbird 410970-1 Ice H5.
Our Top Choice
The LX-7 is, without a doubt, one of the critically acclaimed choices out there, and that’s not only because it has been equipped with an 8-inch display. As a winner in terms of versatility, this model can serve you both as a fish finder and as an ice fishing sonar system. The four user-selectable color palettes that it comes with can ensure that you know how to use the device if you’ve owned a similar one in the past.
Despite the fact that the display is excellent, you may have to purchase an anti-glare screen cover.
Since it offers plenty of value for the price, the Marcum LX-7 should be one of those products you may have to add to your list.
This unit will give you a clear image of what is below the ice, while some of its exclusive features definitely make it an alternative you don’t want to miss out on. One of these is the Dual Spectrum CHIRP Digital Sonar that offers unprecedented viewing options, while the built-in GPS comes with the manufacturer’s base-map, as well as with Interference Rejection settings.
In rare cases, the extra cord necessary to support the transducer was not included in the package.
Thanks to its innovative features and accurate readings, this is a versatile device that has every chance of becoming your new partner in your fishing adventures, so do take it into account.
Also To Consider
If you have no intention of spending countless hours learning how to use an ice flasher or fish finder, perhaps Deeper might make the right choice for your needs. This is a portable unit that works with personal mobile devices. The application is free of charge and includes a plethora of useful info ranging from weather forecasts to map information and social media linking.
For the time being, the product is not available for fishermen located in countries other than the United States.
This model is an entirely functional and reasonably priced unit that offers all the benefits of superb versatility. Just like other options, this one can be used for all types of fishing.
5 Best Ice Fishing Fish Finders (Reviews) in 2020
1. Marcum LX-7 Ice Fishing Sonar System Fishfinder
This sonar system and fish finder is a winner when it comes to versatility as it enables hassle-free operation and can allow you to make the most of it. Since it comes with an 8-inch LCD screen, it goes without saying that you won’t be bothered by anything as the info displayed will be easy to visualize.
Since the model boasts the same four user-selectable color palettes of other units, it might be worth noting that you won’t have to go through a long and painful learning curve just to find out how to use the device. You can safely use the same color coding system of your dated ice fish finder, if you’ve owned one in the past.
Given that the interface made available by this system is easy to use, its many functions prove their worth and ultimately help you catch more fish. You can conveniently read the data at any depth.
While the capabilities of this product are impressive, there are some minor drawbacks that need to be considered when prospecting the market for such a device. One of them is that the Marcum LX-7 isn’t particularly budget-friendly, so you will have to decide whether the investment is worth it.
The 8-inch beautiful LCD screen offers excellent image quality, and it allows you to see all the information needed with superior accuracy.
It is good to know that you will not need a lot of time to get accustomed to the device as it doesn’t have a steep learning curve.
The amount of information displayed on the screen can be picked as you see fit; you will get information on depth, range, and other details with great ease.
The Sonar Footprint feature allows you to examine the bottom from any depth.
The graph displays follow traditional guidelines, so they are very easy to figure out.
You will need to purchase an anti-glare screen separately, as this screen will not behave as well as expected in strong light conditions.Buy from Amazon.com for ($687.12)
2. Humminbird 410970-1 Ice Helix 5
Known for the quality of its products, Humminbird offers a full array of fish finding devices, so if you are planning to add some high-quality ones to your gear for the next season, this is certainly one alternative to take into consideration. The ICE Flasher Series comes with many innovations that are not going to let you down.
One of them is the three-color, fiber optic display that accurately shows you the bottom and marks the fish you are planning to lure. Moreover, thanks to the dual-frequency sonar, user-selectable beam options are available to fine-tune the unit’s coverage for focusing on the fish.
Furthermore, unlike other flashing-only units that you can find on the market, the sonar enables you to see fish and lure history, so that you can determine what’s making fish bite or not. You will be able to see everything using the 5-inch screen that features an 800H x 480V resolution display.
Some of you might wonder how small of a lure can be shown on this device, but this is not something you should worry about, as according to previous buyers, even the smallest ones were visible.
The unit comes with a soft-sided carrying bag, so you won’t need to spend extra money to ensure its protection.
Some of those who have tried it out praised its battery life as well, which is an important aspect of such a unit.
This model is delivered with the battery, charger, as well as with a professional-grade carrying case for added protection.
In rare cases, the unit might give some false readings, but this depends on the conditions as well, and the seller can provide assistance in case a unit is defective.
One user said the unit was not delivered with the extra cord needed to support the transducer.Buy from Amazon.com for ($441.95)
3. Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar - GPS Portable Wi-Fi Feature Finder
This device can scan as far as 260ft in depth, and it can produce up to 15 scans per second. The product maps the depth, the vegetation and the fish that can be found in precise areas. What makes this model worthy of your attention is that it is compatible with both smartphones and tablets that run on Android 4.0 or iOS 8.0 or later. As a result, it allows anglers to view the results instantly.
Because it operates on an independent Wi-Fi connection, the item can be basically used anywhere as long as you have sufficient battery life. It can also be utilized in areas where no cell service is available. This is possible because, according to experts, the product actually emits its own Wi-Fi field.
Because it is only 3.5 oz. in weight and 2.5 inches in diameter, this device is portable, and it can be carried around without difficulties.
The model is powered by a lithium polymer battery that can provide you with up to 6 hours of use; a two hour charge time is necessary beforehand. The choice is compatible with micro USB chargers.
Plus, this option has a maximum depth range of no less than 260 ft. in freshwater. Because it operates on a dual sonar frequencies beam, the item can supply anglers with a 15-degree cone.
A zoom feature is incorporated, and it can be utilized whenever one needs a closer look.
You can use this smart sonar to scan areas that are difficult to access via boat.
One user noted that the battery of the option does not last more than a year. A replacement battery can only be purchased from Europe.
A handful of owners claimed that the product that they received did not work as expected. Not many users had to deal with such issues.Buy from Amazon.com for ($227.49)
4. Garmin Striker 4 with Portable Kit
If you’re not keen on the idea of spending a fortune on your next ice fishing fish finder, perhaps you should check out the specs of the Striker 4. As it is to be expected from a reasonably priced alternative, its features might fail to impress you if you’re expecting a large screen and an incredible freedom in terms of the changes you can make on its menu.
However, the model does offer several perks that need to be considered. For example, it comes with some of the latest technological advances in the field as it boasts a CHIRP sonar as well as various ordinary sonar functions. Plus, it comes with a built-in flasher and a built-in GPS which both allow you to make the most of the product.
The sonar that the model is accompanied by has a range of 750 feet in saltwater and 1,600 feet in freshwater. In case you fail to be satisfied with this range, you can always opt for transducers which are more powerful.
In short, if you’ve been looking for an affordable fish finder that can be used under many circumstances, be sure to consider the Garmin Striker 4.
The Garmin Striker 4 comes equipped with a CHIRP sonar and offers a broad range of sonar capabilities that you will surely enjoy.
The built-in GPS is an extra feature that you will find handy, regardless of your ice fishing destination.
A flasher is also part of the configuration, providing you with extra functions that are not easy to find in other similar products.
The range of the sonar is 750 feet when you fish in saltwater, and 1600 feet when you fish in freshwater, offering you plenty of versatility.
You will not get a particularly large screen if you decide to buy this unit, so you may not be satisfied with the clarity of information on the display.
Also, the menu is somewhat basic and does not offer you too much freedom or control over what the unit can do for you.Buy from Amazon.com for ($199.99)
5. Vexilar FL-8se Genz Pack with 19 Degree Ice Flasher - GP0819
As its name suggests, the Vexilar model comes with a 19-degree ice flasher. What’s more, the unit has a 12-volt 7-amp battery with its own charger. So how will you know when your catch is close? Fortunately even for beginners, the Vexilar has a 3-color sonar flasher. This means that you’ll be seeing weak targets in green, medium ones in orange and strong targets in red.
As for the depth, you might be surprised to learn that this fish finder has six depth ranges, from 20 to 120 feet.
The manufacturers are offering a 2-year warranty on the fish finder and a 1-year one on the battery.
The neat thing about this model is that it’s gathered more than 40 5-star reviews. It certainly wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that it’s among the most acclaimed items of the line.
The 3-color flasher is easy to figure out, as it offers a color coding for targets, to allow you to decide what to do next; the weak targets are shown in green, those that are a little closer in orange, and the most likely to catch in red.
The fish finder has six depths that go from 20 feet to 120 feet, presenting you enough versatility for the times when you go ice fishing.
The 7-amp battery comes with a charger so that you never remain without the possibility of using your fish finder.
You can keep a five-gallon bucket at the base so that you can easily gather there all the fish that you catch.
The battery compartment is semi-encased to offer protection, and also easy access.
If you try using more than one fish finder in the same area, you will get some interference, and that can influence the results you will be reading.Buy from Amazon.com
If you’ve been looking for the top fish finders for ice fishing, you’ve come to the right place. We have taken the time to put together a short list of the three most important things to consider before deciding on a model. If you’re a beginner, it might be a good idea to look for as much info as possible in order to understand the basics of any unit.
Going on websites such as YouTube and watching an ice fishing underwater video can be a great help if you have no idea how the image will be displayed on the screen.
Ice fish finders can generally be split into two main categories. Some come with flashers, which means you won’t be able to visualize in detail what’s happening under the water, and others resemble traditional units, in the sense that they offer a screen display. More advanced models nowadays come with smartphone apps which allow users to see what’s going on under the water on their tablets or cellphones.
Even though they might look like they’re really basic, flashers are still the most popular type of units for ice fishing. They’re reliable and weather resistant, which is one of the most important features since they have to be able to put up with very low temperatures.
Power and frequency
Wattage is a crucial detail when it comes to buying the best fish finder out there, regardless of the season you’ll be using it in. Since image display is not that important for ice fishing units and power undoubtedly affects its clarity, we’ll tell you that readings are also connected to wattage. More watts will trigger faster readings, while fewer watts will inevitably lead to slower readings.
The matter of frequency is somewhat subjective, since you need to figure out which waters you’ll be angling in. Most models come with customizable frequencies, allowing users to select between 83 kHz and 200 kHz.
Unlike their classic counterparts, ice fishing units don’t depend on a large variety of extras. Handheld GPS units are great for storing waypoints so that you know your way around the lake the next time you go out angling. They also come in handy if you intend on doing your fishing with an ATV or a snow machine. If you pick a unit that works on batteries, you might have the nasty surprise of realizing that cold temperatures affect its efficiency.
If you aren’t sure about how satisfied you’ll be with the model you’ve chosen, make sure to opt for one manufactured by a brand that accepts returns.
The ice fishing season may be over but this shouldn’t stop you from preparing your gear for the upcoming season. Depending on where you live, you can get up to 6-7 months of ice fishing per year (in Alaska) or none (sorry Florida). However, most people who live in the midwest or anywhere around the area usually get a decent period of 2-3 months of ice fishing per year.
That window of opportunity can translate into many trips made to the nearest lakes or finding the perfect fishing location in a neighboring state. No matter your choice, you need to stay ahead of the game and prepare the perfect gear, including an ice fishing fish finder.
But first, let’s find out more about what a fish finder can do.
Types of fish finders
Choosing the perfect fish finder depends on the type of water you plan on fishing in. A fish finder suitable for saltwater will provide you the power and clarity you need to navigate coastal waters and find the right fish.
A fish finder designed for freshwater is great for both lakes and rivers, as well as other inland waters where the adventure might take you, no matter the season. Finally, an ice fishing fish finder ensures a deeper understanding of what’s below the ice and helps you identify the best spots to cast your reel.
After picking the right type of fish finder according to the waters you’ll be fishing in, you also need to take into account the type of boat you’ll be using. After thorough research, you can rest assured there is the best fish finder for bass boats, multi-species boats, utility boats, center consoles, bay boats, kayaks, and others.
Now that you know more about these tools, let’s take a closer look at the ones used specifically for ice fishing, and identify the main features that you should consider.
The power source
The power source can be chosen in terms of the charging time, the longevity of the battery, or the wattage. Generally speaking, a good ice fishing fish finder has a higher source of wattage or power to ensure you get a fast translation of what’s underwater.
The lesser power, the slower it will take your fish finder to translate. That being said, you should opt for products with a high battery life that provides hours of use with a single charge. Some items can also be powered by single-use AA batteries but we only recommend them if you have enough to change them before every trip.
The battery life of a product designed for ice fishing differs from what you would normally get if you were looking for fish in freshwaters or saltwaters. Since the item is constantly exposed to extreme temperatures, it consumes more power to keep the unit working flawlessly.
A smart choice would be to opt for a device that comes with a rechargeable battery and everything necessary so you can use a regular 12-volt battery to power up the finder and keep it going for many hours.
The battery life also depends on how intense you use the fish finder, and how deep or shallow the waters where you are fishing are. For instance, some products feature an LP (low-power) mode that will consume less power when you’re tracking fish next to the shore, in creeks or rivers with shallow waters. In this case, the depth range of the water doesn’t exceed 6 feet or even less.
Design and portability
Another feature that you should take into account when opting for an ice fishing finder is the overall design. The product should be made of sturdy materials that won’t wear or tear in time. The waterproof feature is mandatory given that you are going to use it to find fish but you should also make sure the item won’t rust or corrode due to constant exposure to salt.
Portability is extremely important also, so opt for an ice fishing finder that is lightweight and can be handled using one hand. Don’t forget that you might spend hours before finding the best ice fishing spot, which means you have to keep the device in your hands.
Most portable fish finders are attached to the buoy or any other device that helps them float around, which makes these devices great for people who don’t always like to fish from the deck of their boats. But, if you plan on using the accessory all-around-the-year, make sure you pick a fish finder that comes with various boat mounting options, no matter the type of boat you’re using.
It represents one of the most important features of a fish finder as it receives and sends out sonar waves. The sonars are emitted into the water and they bounce off various objects.
After that, the transducer will pick up the results which are later transmitted to the central unit, while the signal is processed into a readable picture format.
Keep in mind that the battery life of your item is also influenced by the accuracy of the transducer.
You can opt for single, dual, or multiple frequency fish finders, depending on your fishing skills, the waters you’ll be mainly fishing in, as well as their depth range. As a general rule, high frequencies work extremely well in shallow waters, with a depth range of about 6 feet and under. The higher the frequency, the more details you’ll get because the sonar waves that are sent are higher.
Don’t forget about interference rejection that needs to work smoothly so you’ll get accurate readings and find the best fishing spots in the icy waters.
Ice fishing is a fun activity as long as it is conducted following strict safety protocols and using the right gear. If you want to find fish faster, you need to opt for a professional fish finder specifically designed to withstand low temperatures of up to -10 degrees Fahrenheit.
The item should be well-built, sturdy, and shouldn’t be affected by water or salt, which means there shouldn’t be any signs of rust or corrosion, even when used extensively.
It should also be easy to operate and handle. Most fish finders on the market today come with full-color, back-lit displays that can be read in all lighting conditions and are easier to interpret.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can you use a regular fish finder for ice fishing?
As we previously mentioned, each fish finder is specifically designed for a certain type of water. If you’re looking for a product that is suitable for your ice fishing activities, it needs to be designed to withstand harsh weather and temperature conditions. It needs to be strong enough to penetrate the thick ice surface and resist the cold temperatures of water, which are below the freezing point.
However, you can opt for an item that can be used in all kinds of fishing environments, including for ice fishing. This device usually comes with a higher price tag and won’t guarantee the reading accuracy as a specific ice fishing fish finder.
The item should also boast a powerful battery that ensures increased autonomy of at least 7-8 hours, enough to help you catch your favorite type of fish in the icy waters. The transducer of an ice fishing fish finder should also be made of stainless steel to resist harsh weather conditions and heavy winds.
Q: How do ice fishing fish finders work?
The main components of such a device include the gain (sensitivity), range (depth), interference rejection or reducer, a display wheel, a transducer, and zoom. While getting your flasher set up is a good start, you also need to know how to read and interpret it to make sure you find fish in the fishing spot of your choice.
You will see various colors on the screen, each correlated to an item or phenomenon that will increase your chance of finding fish. For instance, the yellow/green line shows your lure. You need to reduce the gain or sensitivity if it shows red on the flasher. The dark red line shows the fish. As the fish get closer to the center of the cone, they will appear from green and yellow on the screen, to red.
The large solid red mark will show the bottom but keep in mind that the flasher can only read a depth range of about 6 feet. With the help of sonar, a flasher displays objects detected in the water column on a circular screen.
Q: What is a Vexilar?
The Vexilar represents the ultimate ice fishing tool. The product is the name of the brand that invented the first three-color flasher sonar technology.
After the invention, the company continued perfecting the system, so that now it delivers the most reliable sonar systems in the world. In fact, the company is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2020, with millions of units sold worldwide.
Some of its most popular devices include the FL-8SE, the FL-12, and the FL-18. For instance, the FL-18 features a built-in LP or low power mode that will guide you when you’re fishing in shallow water.
On the other hand, the FL-8SE remains the most popular sonar system of our times and will work in almost all situations but, because it lacks zoom features, it cannot properly target fish at the bottom of deep waters.
Each unit is suitable for certain types of waters and different species of fish, so you need to pick the right Vexilar product according to your skills and the fish you are after.
This is a different type of unit, as it comes with a smartphone app. Although it’s remarkably versatile considering the types of fishing it can be used with, some users have expressed their concerns about ice fishing. As you already know, low temperatures can have a negative effect on the efficiency of electronics, tablets and cellphones included. However, if your mobile phone works fine in very cold weather, this is the right model for you.
The pack contains a smart wireless sonar that relies on Wireless Bluetooth to connect to your phone and display images thereon. The device comes with a rechargeable battery. As for frequency, you’ll be glad to know that this is a dual-beam fish finder, with ranges from 15 degrees to 55 degrees.
Customers state that the Deeper unit is a well-built smart sonar that works well with iOS and Android devices. According to some individuals, it’s very easy to use.
The wireless sonar installed on this model comes with Bluetooth capabilities, allowing you to transmit data to your smartphone without a glitch.
This model is extremely versatile, and it needs an app to transmit data, but bear in mind that it will be able to do that in cold weather only if your smartphone can resist that type of conditions.
A rechargeable battery powers this wireless unit, which means that you can always have it ready at hand.
This is a dual-beam model that goes from 15 to 55 degrees.
You can hook up your fish finder with any Android device, and works with iOS devices, just as fine.
Be aware of turning off the sonar’s app when not in use, as it will end up draining your phone’s battery, as some users have pointed out in their comments.
Compared to the aforementioned Vexilar model, this Lowrance one can be thought of as being way more versatile. For one, it can be utilized both for regular fishing and for ice fishing. Secondly, it actually comes with a 3.5-inch color LCD, which basically means you’ll be able to visualize your catch and the water details it’s swimming in. The display is backlit thus allowing users to work with it be it day or night.
Frequency is not a problem with this item, as users can choose between the 83 kHz and the 200 kHz one. The transom mount transducer is included in the pack, as well as a battery and a charger.
Lowrance is offering a 1-year warranty on this product.
Customers speak highly of how portable it is and of its ability to detect targets under the ice, at depths between 8 and 30ft.
This model is not intended only for ice fishing; you can use it with the same success rate for regular fishing so that you don’t have to purchase an extra device.
The color LCD screen measures 3.5 inches diagonally, offering plenty of room for displaying all the information you need.
Another thing that must be mentioned is that the display is backlit, allowing you to use it during the day and at night, with the same efficiency.
You will get some handy extras with your purchase, such as a transducer mount, a rechargeable battery, and a charger.
You can detect targets up to 30-foot depths when using this model.
You must be aware that only when you travel by boat or kayak at low speeds, the unit will provide the best results.
The accessories needed for using the transducer mount are not included in the package.